"Things you didn't learn in music school"

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Interesting video and although he hits on a variety of topics,
Three things really stood out to me...

1) What you practice in school vs what you'll probably be called on to play in the working world

2 The business aspect of being a musician

3. The idea of using music school as a networking



Thoughts regarding music school?
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I know it sounds mean, but lately I've been recommending to a lot of kids that they should go learn a money-making trade, like working HVAC, or becoming an electrician and work your drums in around all that stuff. Do what Tony Williams did: when he wanted to learn about music composition, he took lessons from the Composition professor at Cal State San Francisco. How awesome is that?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I know it sounds mean, but lately I've been recommending to a lot of kids that they should go learn a money-making trade, like working HVAC, or becoming an electrician and work your drums in around all that stuff. Do what Tony Williams did: when he wanted to learn about music composition, he took lessons from the Composition professor at Cal State San Francisco. How awesome is that?
This is a good idea anyways. If music doesn't work out for whatever reason, you have a skill to fall back on.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
This is a good idea anyways. If music doesn't work out for whatever reason, you have a skill to fall back on.
Oh you'd be surprised how many college students (and sometimes their parents) argue the opposite on this. And I get it - everybody feels they deserve a living at what they're studying. But I encapsulated the process like this:

1) Go to college and get the coveted degree
2) Get a job at Starbucks
3) See the light and finally go to trade school to learn a money-making, in-demand occupation
4). Fit your passion around your career to ease the pain of starting to pay off that deferred student loan from your first degree, and begin adulting ;)
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
You can’t tell your kids what to
do/ they have to figure it out. Sure they may climb up fools hill but so do most of us. Hindsight is always 20/20.i encouraged my kids to follow their passion but make sure your passion can support you. Two hit home runs with their college (even the art major) but my youngest was also an Art major and it wasn’t working for her so she’s finishing her Master’s in counseling ( all As and kicking butt- already got a job offer). I always wanted to go to medical school and be a physician but puberty hit and my Dad started pushing me like my older bros- who avoided going to pharmacy and dental school. I got a MS then I told him I was going on to get my PhD he had a hissy fit- what the hell you going to do with that - another Piled higher & Deeper. Before he passed “he finally told me he was proud of me” - for at least marrying a physician LOL . No he said it to me. Now he was correct all along but I’ll never admit it- wait????? I started a business major then Art finally biology- when all along I wanted to be a music major. Ain’t that a hell of a “note”. My mom was a music major- she was really right lol- I guess I’m a closet musician
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
I know it sounds mean, but lately I've been recommending to a lot of kids that they should go learn a money-making trade, like working HVAC, or becoming an electrician and work your drums in around all that stuff. Do what Tony Williams did: when he wanted to learn about music composition, he took lessons from the Composition professor at Cal State San Francisco. How awesome is that?
I actually did this with drum lessons. Instead of enrolling at the local university, I took lessons with the head of the percussion department. They were the best lessons of my life. Around town, the guy is revered at the best drum teacher, and fantastic player.

BUT, by not going to university, I missed out on reading charts, because in the real world, there's no ensemble, big band, or small combo class that forces you to read (and sight-read) regularly. And not being able to read will cost you gigs and opportunities, which keeps your network even smaller, which further limits your opportunities. I still struggle to read a big band chart that isn't super easy.

Also, I missed out on the chance to network with everyone who went to that university. It took me 10 years of gigging to really have met and played with a fair amount of them.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
No. 1....Pretty much life in general as school goes. By the time you spend four years in college so much has changed in that field that you almost always start any job, not all, with on -the-job-training.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
I didn't find the video all that useful, but on the other hand I'm not a pro, but have pro drumming friends so take it with a grain of salt.

Here's why I didn't think his points were either important or realistic:
- When you learn how to chart and follow difficult songs, there's not a reason why college should be forcing students to memorize a bunch of pop songs. How to listen and transcribe/chart is all that's necessary.
- The business aspect is in complete chaos right now. The revenue models of just a decade ago have all been blown apart. It's unrealistic to think a large institution like a college and the resources (books) from which they draw upon can keep up.
- If trying to do something with entrepreneurial spirit, life is about networking, but yes, if you plan to stay in the area where you go to college networking can be a huge help.

On music school:
College is insanely expensive and probably not worth the investment for many people (including non-musicians) who go through with it depending on their personality type. This is probably even more true for aspiring drummers who are intending their work to be based on performance where I think private instruction with a touring and well-rounded drummer is a much more solid investment for the $. But you have to put in the time and work. The pro's I know have all had years of focused and efficient studying and practicing 6+ hours/day then playing gigs at the end of it.

Seems that a good attitude, solid work ethic and being easy to get along with are the important factors in succeeding in the business that are overlooked most.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I didn't find the video all that useful, but on the other hand I'm not a pro, but have pro drumming friends so take it with a grain of salt.

Here's why I didn't think his points were either important or realistic:
- When you learn how to chart and follow difficult songs, there's not a reason why college should be forcing students to memorize a bunch of pop songs. How to listen and transcribe/chart is all that's necessary.
From what I've seen among college music grads, is that they learn music in two ways:

1. They read charts.
2. The music they like, they will memorize, on their own, as they're learning it.

What school fails to train, is the ability to learn a large amount of music, most of which you don't know very well or at all, in a short amount of time. There is one side of the professional gigging world, where reading is obligatory, of course. But, there is another side, where there is no "book". You receive a song list and some recordings, and are expected to show up and know the tunes, and your role as a player in them.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
From what I've seen among college music grads, is that they learn music in two ways:

1. They read charts.
2. The music they like, they will memorize, on their own, as they're learning it.

What school fails to train, is the ability to learn a large amount of music, most of which you don't know very well or at all, in a short amount of time. There is one side of the professional gigging world, where reading is obligatory, of course. But, there is another side, where there is no "book". You receive a song list and some recordings, and are expected to show up and know the tunes, and your role as a player in them.
This is where I think private instruction, or a self motivated person can learn valuable skills apart from college. If you work through a book like Groove Essentials where there's prewritten music to play along to and a few groove suggestions with charts you can develop that skill pretty quickly. There's of course much to be gained by submersing oneself in music school, but the cost is high and the income potential uncertain for sure.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I actually did this with drum lessons. Instead of enrolling at the local university, I took lessons with the head of the percussion department. They were the best lessons of my life. Around town, the guy is revered at the best drum teacher, and fantastic player.

BUT, by not going to university, I missed out on reading charts, because in the real world, there's no ensemble, big band, or small combo class that forces you to read (and sight-read) regularly. And not being able to read will cost you gigs and opportunities, which keeps your network even smaller, which further limits your opportunities. I still struggle to read a big band chart that isn't super easy.

Also, I missed out on the chance to network with everyone who went to that university. It took me 10 years of gigging to really have met and played with a fair amount of them.
I don't know if I agree about the networking part. When you're in college, everybody is kind of seeing you learn and make the stupid mistakes we all make. If networking is like growing up with your brothers and sisters, I would think that would be a detriment to getting hired. In my part of the world, everyone is jaded enough to know that you don't want a freshly graduated music performance major on your gig because you know it won't end up well. New graduates are all eager to be over-achievers so they can make that correct first impression, which never ends up being the correct one - so I know a few people who want more seasoned people on the bandstand (of course, unless their exceptionally talented and grown up at the same time). So maybe it was good that it took 10 years for you, because you would've grown as a musician and if they liked you, they're thinking, "so where was this guy all this time? Gotta use him again". Right?

As far as reading and playing in the big bands, as hard as it is, you could go to your local community college and take a jazz band class without declaring a major in it. Or, to use the Tony Williams analogy, you could go find the best big band player in the city and take lessons with him so you'll at least get that mental mindset together for when you finally find yourself in the pilots' seat of a big band.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
From what I've seen among college music grads, is that they learn music in two ways:

1. They read charts.
2. The music they like, they will memorize, on their own, as they're learning it.

What school fails to train, is the ability to learn a large amount of music, most of which you don't know very well or at all, in a short amount of time. There is one side of the professional gigging world, where reading is obligatory, of course. But, there is another side, where there is no "book". You receive a song list and some recordings, and are expected to show up and know the tunes, and your role as a player in them.
Yep. You gotta read read read. I had a few band classes in college where all we did was open charts and read them. Mistakes and all. Then when that was done, you'd open another chart and read that. I loved it. You get exposed to that kind of "music by the pound" reading and it does great things for your mind and your confidence grows. One of my first paying gigs was playing drums for the L.A. Lakers pep band at the Forum, and you're eyes are literally glued to the music director (who's wearing headphones, being told what to do from the show director), and he calls the charts out by NUMBER, and starts and stops you. They told me I'd get to relax and watch the game - boy was I wrong! I was sweating from the stress the whole time!

As far as the "music they like" bit - this is where you spend the rest of your time when you're not playing music - you're LISTENING to music. Get a personal copy of the standard fake book and start listening to the recordings of those songs in the book. Being a musician becomes a lifestyle because you're either playing, or listen, to music. Somewhere in there you'll be working to pay your bills ;)
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
So maybe it was good that it took 10 years for you, because you would've grown as a musician and if they liked you, they're thinking, "so where was this guy all this time? Gotta use him again". Right?
I really don't think so. I think other players are known for having the shared experience of those combo and big band classes. So, when gigs come up for this kind of music, they ask the former classmate from 10 years ago. And not someone like me, who maybe plays okay now, but doesn't have formal training in the genre of the gig.
As far as reading and playing in the big bands, as hard as it is, you could go to your local community college and take a jazz band class without declaring a major in it. Or, to use the Tony Williams analogy, you could go find the best big band player in the city and take lessons with him so you'll at least get that mental mindset together for when you finally find yourself in the pilots' seat of a big band.
I tried this, but the big band and ensemble classes, at least for drummers, were not open to those who were not enrolled full-time in the program. There are more drummers than there are seats, so preference is given to those most vested. I could have enrolled, but at the time I thought I could find a rehearsal band instead, and read charts that way. But big bands are just super rare, and rarer still are one who will tolerate a green drummer. Many of the local big band leaders have passed on.

I have been thinking about taking lessons with someone who's known for playing big band well around town. Thanks man, this may have been the push I needed!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Being an average self-taught shmow I ran into a wall gigging and not being able to read/sight read. I can't compete with someone who can come in cold and read the charts and music and play spot on. Now give me recordings and some time (which was shorter when younger) and I can get there. The wall was when I received a huge folder with all the music/charts (which I didn't even look at to be fair) and then a recording. The two weren't the same it turns out so an embarrassing dilemma. It must not have bothered me that much cause I still don't like to read music (I do have a rudimentary ability to slowly read). I'm still looking for a good teacher and wishing for some insights on how to pick one. I haven't even bothered to buy a drum book to try and work through on my own-which sort of surprises me. Maybe I'll do that first-a lot of the same ones keep coming up on here. Man I just had an epiphany I'm going to use soft mallets with paint, cover my drums, and paint by playing drum patterns and see what happens visually. It'll be an experiment. I need a bubble room for paint splat hmmmmm. Hmmmm Wait-I think I may have some insights to my difficulty reading charts. Charts make good paper for my paint experiment.
 
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PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I'm a part-time musician and a full-time college instructor. I feel I could write a book on all of this stuff.

I've written and erased about 3-4 different paragraphs here, but I think I'll just leave this here.

It's worth 2:32 of your time:

 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Just a little something to keep in mind:

This past weekend, I played with three different bands (a couple of the bands share members) which equal 10 different guys.

Out of the 11 of us, only 3 are still married.

I'm pretty sure they don't teach that in music school either.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
"Merciless, people in positions of power. Sounds real familiar. The most talented people don't make it-coincidence, luck, and get along-be personal." Wow I'm personable, lucky, check, check, the most talented don't make-so I don't even need talent-check, check, check. Dang I'm now an aspiring musician who wants to make a lot of money. You know I get where he comes from-life jades you =even against the things you once loved. Once they suck that from you then it is about money. Like wives with some people LOL-now that's funny. I'm curious how other pros feel-i find this thread really interesting.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
I think each music school teaches you as much as you want to get out of those lessons yourself..

If you only study like a decent student the exercises 1-10 and next lesson exercises 10-20 etc and nothing more, then in the end you wont learn that much..

But when you are a curious student and eager to learn, you can have a lot of benefit from such institutes where most likely a lot of information is available and teachers with (if a quality music school) a lot of knowledge..

And brentcn is right when he says that a lot of musicians who met each other at for example conservatory keep playing with classmates (and other students they know) during their career..

Such places are very important regarding networking and can actually turn out to be a network base for a big part during your life..
 
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